Mediterranean Diet Staves Off Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
Sep. 17, 2008 -- The Mediterranean diet is famous for staving off heart disease, but recent studies show that the eating pattern -- heavy on vegetables, fruits, olive oil and fish -- also provides substantial protection from cancer and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
Italian researchers compiled evidence from a dozen large-scale studies that tracked more than 1.5 million people in the United States and elsewhere for as long as 18 years. Their report in the current issue of the British Medical Journal concludes that people who followed a strict Mediterranean diet are:
9 percent less likely to die from heart attack, stroke or heart failure;
6 percent less likely to develop cancer, and
13 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
To rate how closely your eating habits fit the Mediterranean diet, answer the following questions. Score 1 point for each yes, 0 for each no. Totals of six or higher put you in the range of highest benefit. Scores less than four mean you are getting little or no protection.
- Vegetables: 4 or more servings a day
- Legumes: 1 or more servings a week
- Fruit: 3 or more servings a day
- Nuts and seeds: 1 or more servings a week
- Whole grains: 1 or more servings a day
- Fish: 4 or more servings a week
- Fats: More unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, than saturated fats, such as butter.
- Alcohol: 1/2 to 1 drink a day for women; 1 to 2 for men
- Red and processed meat: Fewer than 2 servings a day for women, fewer than 3 a day for men
Source: Adapted from the diet score created by Antonia Trichopoulou and colleagues at the University of Athens Medical School, Greece, with U.S. data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.
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